International Association of Approved Basketball Officials, Inc.

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Notes from Commissioner


 (based upon game observations to date)


CONTACT (there is illegal & legal contact)

Defense & Offense must be held accountable for Illegal Contact.

  • Hand(s), armbar, bumping, leaning (forward & backward), are illegal acts and must be rules so.
  • Verticality, offense is as responsible as defense is. “Shooters” while following through and contacting defenders must be penalized. Like contact by defense and offense requires like rulings.
  • All contact is SUSPECT. Contact which is incidental (could be slight or severe) MUST be ruled LEGAL. Contact which affects or helps one player, in a match-up, MUST be ruled ILLEGAL.
  • Backcourt – bumping (belly/chest), feeling (hand/armbar), pushing, etc. – must be penalized.
  • Perimeter - feeling/warding off with hand(s) or armbars, holding, bumping etc. – must be penalized.
  • Post play – leaning (backward/frontward), feeling, holding, and bumping – must be penalized.
  • Rebound play (see entire play) – backing-out/leaning-in, holding, bumping, etc – must be penalized.
  • Attempts to recover ball – the ball is free, however, the pursuit of the ball
  • Try for Goal and Defending Try – Both players have contact responsibility, Both players must play legal vertically – non-vertical defended must be penalized; non-vertical “shooter” must be penalized.
  • WHY do players make contact? To hinder their defensive or offensive effort OR o lessen the opponent’s effort?
  • Observations find very obvious 2-3 dozen contact situations per game where Illegal contact is ruled as being Legal (no-whistle) or Legal contact is ruled as being Illegal contact (wrongly penalized by inaccurate ruling).


  • Reception of pass when moving and travel (pivot foot off floor) occurring while the player is transferring the ball status from catch to beginning a dribble.
  • Jump Stop – legal landing then lifting pivot foot then replaces it to the floor, which is Illegal, is being ruled (no-whistle) Legal; a smooth/athletic/rhythmic move (one foot placed on floor before the other foot – a one, two landing) which is Illegal and is (no whistle) ruled Legal.
  • "Spin Move or Euro Step” is simply player action which must meet the rule as per pivot foot use.
  • Post player with ball and back to the basket very often jumps to start a move then drops then pushes the ball to the floor which is an illegal attempt to begin a dribble.
  • Dribbling behind the back must be a Legal continuation of a dribble and not an ending of the dribble, palming, and then beginning a second dribble. It is an advantage move and if Illegal and ruled Legal it is an illegal move allowing the offensive player to beat the defender.
  • Using up time at end of a quarter or game when an offensive player, staying still, in essence throws the ball back and forth from one hand to another. It is the ending of a dribble each time the ball goes from one hand to the other. Officials are observing the play and ruling this Illegal act as being Legal.
  • The occasional High Bounce during a dribble appears ugly, different, however, unless the ball comes to rest in or on the hand it is Legal. Very often this situation is being ruled a violation (palming). Overwhelmingly often the bounce is Legal action being ruled as Illegal.
  • Momentum, as long as it exists there can be NO Traveling Violation.
  • Observations find upwards of 20-30 situations per game where Legal use of the pivot foot is rule Illegal and Illegal use of the pivot foot ruled Legal. The result is a possession lost when it shouldn’t be and a possession maintained when it shouldn’t be. SERIOUS INJUSTICE!!!!!

OTHER Rules & Application

  • Kicking Must Be Intentional. A ball contacting a foot or a foot simply coming in contact with the ball is not kicking.
  • Grasping the Ring (bending fingers around the ring) is not part of the Legal Dunking Rule. There is no need to Grasp the Ring during the Dunking process. It is a Technical Foul and must be ruled as such. If a player Grasps or hold on to the ring for the sole purpose to prevent injury is a Legal exception to the rule. NOTE: This rule has been clarified to all Maine Coaches & A. Adm.
  • Coaching Box Rule is to be enforced. Very obviously officials are not to divert attention to the bench area when game coverage does not allow for it. However, when a Head Coach is seen violating the rule it is to be penalized. A coach, for the obvious sole purpose of getting a drink of water, etc. is not a violation of the rule. Regarding rules application, always keep in mind that there are two (2) teams; each team is affected whether the rule set aside is traveling, contact, dribble or the Coaching Box. Enforcing rules tends to end Illegal play, actions and undesirable behavior.
  • Closely Guarded when holding or dribbling the ball must be constantly recognized and the rule must be applied immediately. The rule does not require an aggressive attempt to guard the opponent.
  • Substitution – substitutes are not to be admitted (beckoned-in) until the Timer sounds the HORN. The Official Scorer & Timer determine when a substitute should be admitted/beckoned-in. Don’t override the Scorer & Timer. Trust your Official Table Partners. Officials shall not delay/hold-up the game to wait for a substitute to be processed.
  • Time-Out - Request must be first recognized. The next step in the official’s procedure is to check to learn if the Request can be Granted. Upon learning that Request can be Granted, Grant the Time-out Request. Simply stated, the Request is not a dictate to Grant a time-out.
    Strive not to be in error of illegally granting a time-out. Very often officials appear to be very excited and animated upon recognizing a Request for a time-out….REMAIN COMPOSED.
  • Nearest Spot location is of vital importance. Develop a vivid mental impression of the Nearest Spot as depicted in the IAABO Manual on page 41. It Matters to both teams whether the ball is awarded on the endline or the sideline and it Matters to both teams whether the ball is awarded to the left side or right side of the Free throw lane.
  • WARNINGS – ( ONLY four (4) warnings permitted).
    Officials are not to warn players, Head Coaches or bench personnel when they are Legal in their play or behavior. Officials are not to warn players, Head Coaches or bench personnel when they are Illegal in their play or behavior. Think about it……Why warn someone who is complying/is Legal? Why warn someone who is not complying/is Illegal? Rule it ILLEGAL!
    There are ONLY four (4) warnings because everything else is EITHER LEGAL OR ILLEGAL and must be ruled as such...
    It is basic and simple, .the rules are in place, enforce the rule involved.


  • Free Throw Administration and Coverage (review IAABO Manual pages 74-76 & 168-173) Closing down toward endline too soon. Doing so eliminates necessary coverage. Closing down should not occur until the ball contacts the backboard or ring...
  • A, B, C Lead Coverage Procedure applies to Crew 0f 2 & 3. Ball location does not dictate coverage movement & positioning needs. Coverage needs dictate the coverage movement & positioning.
  • Primary Coverage Areas (PCA) & Field of Vision Cones (FOV) Develop a vivid mental impression of the PCAs in IAABO Manual pages 21-23 & 107-109. Ball watching, beyond the individual PCA is a concern, especially when the Lead Official is the ball watcher.
  • Lead in C of 2 and 3; NEVER be positioned so that you need to turn your head toward the sideline. Having to do so informs you that you are not wide enough to provide the necessary coverage in your PCA. Doing so leaves in and around the free throw lane area without Lead coverage.
    FOV Cone must be narrowed and shortened when the ball is within your PCA as there the ball, is present, potential pursuit of the ball by an opponent is present and there is a pivot foot to be monitored.
    FOV Cone must be widened and lengthened when the ball is not within your PCA as the outer area of a partner’s PCA must have coverage. The lack of the ball being present, there is no pivot foot in your PCA and normally defense is not as aggressive extends the opportunity to expand your coverage and therefore improve the Crew’s coverage.
    Learn to accept the ball when it enters your PCA.
    Learn to give up the ball when it leaves your PCA.
  • Reporting of Fouls are to take place within the Reporting Area (see page 55 of IAABO Manual). After completing all at the site of the foul signaling, proceed to the Reporting Area.
    Don’t walk and talk while reporting the foul.
    Don’t walk to the Reporting Area….hustle (no need to dash), simply hustle.
  • Substitutes and the Clock are the responsibility of the Official Scorer & Timer. Neither are a primary responsibility of the on the court officials. Attention, when thorough coverage is needed on the court, is not to be diverted to substitutes. Trust your Table Official partners.
  • COLOR VERBALIZED (sharp/crisp & volume to be heard) – do so at the site of every foul; when reporting the foul or time-out to the scorer; after a time-out and at the start of each quarter prior to awarding the ball; every direction signal must be accompanied by verbalizing the COLOR.


  • Stop the Clock Every Time the Whistle is sounded for a foul, violation, time-out, held ball and unusual delay.
  • Maintain the stop the clock signal until you have had eye contact with a partner. Then lower the signal and proceed with other signaling. Too often the arm is up & down prior to being seen.
  • Time-out signal is a raised arm with an open hand and tucked thumb. It is not flinging and pointing an arm with one finger toward a bench.
  • Direction Signal is an extended arm with whole hand and a tucked thumb. It is not an extended arm with a one, or two finger point.
  • Designated Spot throw-in Signal is not a SECRET between the thrower and the official. The rule and signal matters to all 10 players, your partner(s) and to others. Must be signaled at EVERY DESIGNATED SPOT throw-in. The signal is not to be horizontal (from long distance) it is to be vertical, beside the thrower. The official is to start every Designated Spot Throw-in beside the thrower. After sounding the whistle, announcing the COLOR and signaling the DIRECTION of play, the official may hand the ball to the thrower then move away or move away and bounce the ball to the thrower.
  • Substitution beckon-in signal is with one arm and hand…….not two hands.
  • Team Control Foul Signal is an extended arm with a closed fist. It is not a punch. Team control foul signal is NOT the charge/player control signal. Player Control Foul has a specific signal…..Stop the clock signal, pause, drop the stop the clock signal and place an arm/hand behind the head... Do not co-mingle Player Control and Team Control. Player Control Foul is not a Team Control Foul. Team Control Foul is not a Player Control Foul.
  • Counts all by extended arm w/open hand with tucked thumb. Free Throw count not a Secret.

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